Adeptus Mechanicus and Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard "Wiki"

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My blog is primarily my own personal fluff in the Warhammer 40,000 universe regarding the Draconis system such as the Knight House Yato in Draconis III, the Imperial Guard...I mean, Astra Militarum regiment trained there, the Draconian Armored Force, and the Forge World of Draconis IV with its Adeptus Mechanicus priesthood and Skitarii legions, and perhaps the Titan Legion, Legio Gojira (which will never happen because I don't have money for Forge World Titans).

Oh, and I'll throw in the Thousand Sons from time to time because they're my favorite Space Marine Legion. I refuse to believe that they are Traitors! They're just...ahem...secretly loyal to the Imperium!

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ciaphas Cain

Today's review will be about the Ciaphas Cain series. Not the novels or individual omnibus, but an overview of the entire series. There are plenty of reviews on the individual novels, and on the omnibus such as Hero of the Imperium and Defender of the Imperium, so there is no real need for me to review them one by one. Rather, this is a review for people who wonder if they should collect the series or at least start reading it.

My personal answer to that is a resounding yes.

The Ciaphas Cain series is, quite simply put, the best series in the entire Warhammer 40K universe. My humble opinion, of course, and please take note that all the reviews and stuff written here are of my personal opinion and in no way reflects the majority view and I have and will never intend them to be facts. So feel free to disagree. Anyway, the Ciaphas Cain series is my favorite, and in my own opinion, the best series in the Warhammer 40K universe. It brings a breath of fresh air and plenty of good humor to a universe otherwise steeped too much in the whole grimdark thing and takes itself way too seriously. Yeah, I know the whole point of the Warhammer 40K universe is to throw the poor residents living in it into despair by pitting them against innumerable odds and having them die horrible deaths, but honestly, I'm sick of all that. Many of the novels tend to take themselves far too seriously and have bad things happen for the sake of happening. Characters die when they don't need to, making it feel forced, and sometimes the theme is taken too far that it's hard to believe and it leaves a very bad aftertaste after reading it. Dead Men Walking, for example, and many of the Horus Heresy books, kind of leave a bad taste in my mouth with their dark and pessimistic endings and unfortunate protagonists and characters.






This is where Ciaphas Cain comes in. Tech-priest does this as well, with an awesome twist to its ending, but Ciaphas Cain...well, he's on a whole new level. Sandy Mitchell was apparently influenced by Blackadder, and anyone who watches that series and sees Rowan Atkinson in it knows how hilarious it is, and it shows. Ciaphas and his sidekick, Jurgen, make an amazing pair who brave dangers, survive them through ridiculously good fortune to the extent I can't stop laughing at how they simply bluff their way out of death or luck out in supposedly one-sided combat, and build upon their exaggerated reputation. Well, Ciaphas anyway, because poor Jurgen often gets ignored and sidelined in the universe's popular media. And the media itself and its depiction of Ciaphas and his so-called feats are also hilarious.

The first story where Ciaphas mistakenly saves Jurgen and ends up leading his allies to decimate the Tyranids through his supposed blunder is funny and an enjoyable read. The novel where Ciaphas crashes into Perlia and inadvertently saves it when he gathers a ragtag band of soldiers and misfits to save his skin rather than retake the planet is incredibly impressive. The sequel to that, where Ciaphas returns to Perlia to drive out the forces of Chaos with his trainees, is equally fun and enjoyable - particularly the ending where he literally kicks the villain's ass. And the novel where Ciaphas meets up with an old classmate Commissar who is attached to the Tallarn Desert Raiders who tries to get him into trouble out of jealousy and old prejudices is so amusing I actually burst out laughing when reading specific passages of how Ciaphas unintentionally turns the tables on Tomas Beije through heroic feats such as besting a couple of Chaos Space Marines in melee combat and figuring out the truth. I think Ciaphas and Beije were in Kastafore then. And Beije ended up being charged and punished by the same tribunal he reported to in order to get Ciaphas into trouble, which had me in stitches.

However, by the end of the second omnibus, the whole formula gets pretty stale and repetitive. Ciaphas's trademark "if I had known what was going to happen, I would never have done this and would have gone as far away from the planet as posisble" lines get dry and downright annoying. Yeah, we heard you say that the past nine novels. Time to change it up, all right? There's only so many times he can repeat that without the readers getting sick of it. And the stories are usually the same. Ciaphas makes the mistake of believing this task is easy, gets tricked into doing it, or some accident or disaster happens, his job becomes a lot more dangerous than he realizes, he can't escape because he's either stuck in the situation or he needs to preserve his reputation, and he ends up saving the day eventually which leads to his fradulent reputation being further bloated AGAIN. Yeah, it becomes the same after nine books and while the first two omnibuses were fresh and funny to keep my interest, the last two novels were, simply put, getting stale. And hey, the poor Orks getting pummeled by a more dangerous threat...that idea was reused twice! First, the poor Orks got overshadowed by Necrons...and to make matters worse, in The Last Ditch, the poor Orks got eaten up by Tyranids! They never get a break.

Well, I do hope the Ciaphas Cain series break away from the usual "if I had known this was gonna happen......" lines and inject new forms of humor and outrageous situations in future. There is only so many times you can reuse the formula and ideas, and Ciaphas and his series are so promising in a grimdark series filled with death and people taking themselves too seriously. Yeah, I know the universe is hopeless and pessmistic, but after reading so many books where people die, Chaos sometimes prevail, the price of victory being so steep winning becomes pointless (seriously the way the Inquisition treated the Guardsmen and purged them after they won the war on Armageddon was downright disgusting and again left quite the horrible taste), blah blah....I get desensitized and numb to it. It becomes hard to care for the characters (except Ciaphas and the Mechanicus and the Imperial Knights), and I just don't want to read them. I read for fun and to enjoy myself, and if the novels I read have bitter, sad endings, grimdark stuff and somber consequences, it really leaves quite the bad and sullen taste in my mouth and it's not enjoyable or fun.

Ciaphas Cain makes Warhammer 40K fun. That's why I will continue to read the series - because following a character as fun as him is enjoyable, leaves me with a happy feeling upon completing the story, and allows me to laugh and enjoy myself at his antics. This is why I will highly recommend Ciaphas Cain, not just to Warhammer 40K fans but to casual readers who know nothing about Warhammer 40K. It can be a light, casual read, it can be read alone as a sci-fi military series without any relation to the grimdark universe of the 41st millennium.

I have not read The Emperor's Finest yet, but I will read it eventually. A friend of mine owns the book and I look forward to borrowing it from him the next time I meet him (most likely in December). I've read all the other novels and omnibuses of Ciaphas Cain, and while Sandy Mitchell's last Ciaphas Cain novel was in 2013 - The Greater Good, I hope he will add a few more to Ciaphas Cain's memoirs! There's still the Dark Eldar story, the Chaos Dreadnought story and the Tyrannic Wars!


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